Candidate Advice | 3 min read

So, You Had a Counter Offer…Now What? 5 Things You Should Always Consider…

Written by Adam Woozeer

It’s potentially the most awkward moment in your career; handing in your notice to your employer. You call a meeting with them and inform that you will be the leaving the business in the next few weeks, expecting them to thank you for your time and wish you luck on your next venture.

But they don’t. Instead, they provide a counter offer with more money or a better job promotion if you stay on. Not the expected outcome from the situation, it can make even the most sure-minded individual do a double take. Should you really be leaving, or should you stick around in your current role a bit longer?

Having a counter offer on the table can be confusing, and you might be tempted to make a quick decision. However, it’s important that you take your time because there are a few things to consider before accepting or rejecting a counter-offer…

  1. Why you wanted to leave in the first place…

When you’re offered a job promotion or a higher salary, it can be hard to remember why you wanted to leave a business in the first place. But even if you take a counter-offer, you’re probably just delaying the inevitable. Indeed, 80% of candidates who accept a counter-offer from their current employer end up leaving within 6 months.

Why? The simple fact is that if you’ve decided to interview and open yourself up to new opportunities, you probably don’t want to be at your current job anymore – whether it’s the culture, the pay package or the location, something just isn’t right. But, when presented with a counter-offer, a lot of people forget the reason they were looking around in the first place and decide to stay on. That is, until they remember a few months down the line why they didn’t like it…

  1. How will you be treated?

It seems like we’re being overly negative in this post, but unfortunately if you hand in your notice and end up not leaving there is a chance your colleagues and employer won’t treat you kindly – despite asking you to stay on. Knowing you chose to jump ship and then stayed for more money or a better position might not sit too well with colleagues and knowing you don’t really want to be there might leave a sour taste in your boss’s mouth. Obviously, there are a lot of business that won’t begrudge your decision to consider leaving but think carefully about how it might be perceived within the business. Since you’ve proven that you’re ready to leave management might be waiting for you to do it again; meaning you might be left at the bottom of the list from promotions, projects or training since they think you may leave at any time.

  1. Will you be burning bridges?

One of the biggest concerns with a counter offer is the fear that you will be burning bridges. Whether with your current company if you choose to reject their offer, or with the company who have already made you an offer, it seems like you can’t get out of the situation without annoying someone. The important thing to remember is that honesty is always the best policy; tell your potential new employer that whilst you are incredibly grateful for their offer you have chosen to continue in your current position or thank your boss for their offer but politely decline and explain that you believe that your future lies outside of the company. As long as you handle the situation in a timely and professional manner neither party will have any reason to hold it against you.

  1. Is it genuine?

It’s not the nicest way to look at it, but you have to consider whether your counter offer is made because your boss genuinely wants to keep you in the business, or because it’s more of a hassle to have you leave. It sounds ridiculous, but it in reality can cost an employer as much as 213% of an annual salary to replace a senior executive. When you consider this, counter offering with a salary rise of £20,000 doesn’t seem like too much of an ask, so you should always consider whether their offer is in your best interest…or in theirs.   

  1. Will your job be on the line?

Again, a negative way to look at what you want to think is a heartfelt plea to keep you in the business, but you have to consider whether accepting a counter-offer will mean you actually have job security. After all, there is a big chance that your employer may counter-offer simply because they want you to stick around long enough to find a replacement; paying you a little more now is worth it when compared to having an empty role for an unknown period of time. It’s cynical, but if you’ve already expressed your desire to leave the business and identified yourself as a flight risk then your employer will more than likely want to replace you with someone who is more likely to stick around in the long-term.

Deciding whether accepting a counter offer is an important decision, and one that could potentially affect you for the foreseeable future, so it is imperative that you take the time necessary to weigh up the pros and cons. But, fundamentally, does the counter-offer deal with the reasons you chose to take another position in the first place? If the answer is no, then don’t let the fear of rejecting your boss stop you from taking a positive step forward